THE state of Texas has sued an auctioneer for alleged price gauging in the sale of 750,000 high-quality face masks and other desperately-needed supplies.
The lawsuit filed Thursday by the Texas Attorney General’s Office alleges that an auction by Auctions Unlimited had bidding on N95 respirator masks reaching as high as $180 for a package of 16 masks.
“Auctions Unlimited owner Tim Worstell admitted to receiving warnings from both local police and the Texas Attorney General; however, he moved forward with the exorbitantly priced auctions,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.
It was unclear how many bids were taken on the masks, but Worstell denied price gouging.
Texas has reported 23 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and nearly 1,700 confirmed cases. Across the country, 1,380 people have died, with nearly 93,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. this week surpassed China as the nation with the largest outbreak of the lethal virus.
Amazon sold a set of 100 for $4.21 in late January.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the auctions and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.